No Highs?  No Lows?  Must be Bose!

No, the title’s not an original Blankism. It’s an old standard within the retail audio industry that goes back to (at least) the middle ’70s. It’s also one of the more accurately descriptive derogatory statements in America’s cultural lexicon. Personally, I think it ranks right up there with “doesn’t play well with others,” but then, that’s just me.

Unfortunately, I’ve yet to find an equally quaint way to describe the physical damage I’d like to mete out to one Herbert (Herbie) Hancock without coming off like a complete racist asshole, but when I’m channel surfing at 3:00 AM, I regret to inform the reader that I’m stuck with disturbing visions of burning something on a lawn – but, rather than it being a cross on Mr. Hancock’s lawn, I’m envisioning burning Mr. Hancock on the undoubtedly manicured lawn of the Bose corporate offices in Massachusetts.

See? I told you it was gonna sound awful.

And why would I want to do that to a perfectly inoffensive (if you can forgive him for Rocket – I can’t) jazz pianist and composer?

Because the sick sonofabitch is pushing the most overrated, overpriced and over-promoted piece of electronic horseshit the Western World has seen since the laughable but cruel 901 invasion of the late ’60s, and the bastard’s doing so in a mindnumbingly ubiquitous series of infomercials on late night TV. In other words: he’s peeing in my particular pool of interest, and I want to see him suffer exquisitely for his sins against man – and me.

Okay, so you don’t even know what the “laughable but cruel 901 invasion of the late ’60s” is and you’re calling that asswipe Morris Dees of the Southern Poverty Law Center to report me for hate crimes. Fair enough. I’ll go away peacefully, but…

I implore you to hear me out before passing judgment on my sick and twisted vision of revenge.

First, though, a bit of background…

In 1968, the Bose corporation introduced what soon became the quintessential “must have” set of stereo speakers for every Playboy-reading college punk in America who wasn’t being shot at by scads of angry AK-47-weilding farmers in Southeast Asia. The single best thing about our under-appreciated servicemen coming home from that particular conflict was that their hearing had been so adversely affected by constant gunfire that the unavoidable Tinnitus and subsequent hearing loss had mercifully spared them from being subjected to the horrors of Bose’s Direct/Reflecting® loudspeaker technology.



I haven’t even gotten started.

My purpose here is not to hammer Bose for their past transgressions against humanity’s ears, but to lay waste to their arrogant little Bostonian selves on their latest marketing travesty: the concept that says if you spend $1377 (more on that in a moment) with Bose, you can get better (it makes me cringe just typing that word in the same sentence as “Bose”) sound than were you to spend the same $1377 with some other company.

But I’m getting ahead of myself.

Back to those disillusioned Vietnam vets and shit-for-brained college students…

Bose’s company-expanding concept of “Direct/Reflecting®” loudspeaker technology certainly looked good (sort of) on paper, but the execution of the idea fell well short of the ideal. Those infamous 901 speakers (for which Bose is up to its SIXTH development series) became an ersatz benchmark where no bench was necessary. The idea of placing nine “full range” (HA!) drivers to the rear of the speaker enclosure and leaving one driver and two ports aimed to the front caught the imagination of every dweeb who imagined he was some sort of burgeoning Richard Feynman of psychoacoustics. Trouble is, no one could set the damn things up properly, because most of the twits never read the reasoning behind the 901’s weird driver array!

Do you have any idea how many really nice homes I’ve been in over the last three decades where I’ve seen a pair of 901s aimed into a sound-absorbing curtain rather than a necessarily reflective facing wall off of which all that reflected sound is supposed to bounce off of to bring the listener that patented “stereo everywhere” Bose sound? Do you know how many nice homes I’ve been in where a pair of 901s were facing the wrong direction because the feeble fucks couldn’t figure out why their expensive speakers sounded so shitty that they turned them around so the nine-driver side was facing the listener instead of the as-specified, other way ’round?

Look, I’m not asking you to become instantly familiar with all the acoustical science and sound reproduction concepts described herein, but you can grasp at least one aspect of why the entire idea behind the technology that put Bose on the map is bankrupt on face value…

Bose says only 11% of live sound in a concert hall reaches your ears directly. Okay, even if you buy that, answer me this: When was the last time you attended a concert where the symphony you were there to hear faced AWAY from you?


I thought not.

I doubt any of this techno-babble would hold your attention were I not to say something clever and deep about the Bose 901 Direct/Reflecting® Loudspeaker at this point. Okay… < ahem > I hereby declare the Bose 901 to be the worst bang-for-the-buck transducer ever produced by man.

Not “edgy” enough for you?

Okay. Fine.

The Bose 901 is the reason the expression “No highs? No lows? Must be Bose!” came into being.

Still not enough?


A Bose 901 has all of the tonal accuracy of Roseanne Barr signing the National Anthem, all of the high frequency capability of a hoarse cave troll, and the slamming bass impact of a gnat fart.



So what does Bose’s folly have to do with my wanting to roast Herbie Hancock on their corporate lawn? Nothing, except for the fact that so many of you are still BUYING BOSE’S BULLSHIT that they’re now making enough money to literally cake the late-night airwaves with their slickly produced cow pie hocus pocus, and Herbie Friggin’ Hancock is their chief turd-slinger.

But it’s no longer the sorry-ass 901 that has me in a tizzy. Oh, no… It’s much, much worse now.

So, you may ask yourselves, “Who is The Blank to bitch about such an esoteric and staggeringly technical subject?”

A fair enough question – enough so that I’m now going to do something I never do on my own website… I’m going to offer everyone a little insight on how The Blank came to be such a bitter and disturbed social commentator – especially when it comes to reproduced sound.

You see, I’m a real, live, “golden-eared” (read: “institutionable”) audiophile.

Yep, “Audiophil” – that’s me.

I am such a sick and twisted man that Lucasfilm, Ltd., hired me over the phone to become a real, live TAP (Theater Alignment Program) Evaluator for them back in 1990. Okay, maybe that had something more to do with the fact that I made THX theatrical services coordinator (or whatever she was called way back then), Judy Rosen, crack up when I referred to Tucson as “Otisburg” (see: Superman for the bizarre sub-reference) in the same phone call – but that’s another story for another time. I’m a shooter, so that means I have taken care of my ears since I was a little kid, because I knew the dire importance of protecting my hearing. I have never attended an amplified concert without wearing hearing protection. I possess perfect pitch, and what’s known as “pitch memory” (meaning for about any tone or tune you can name in a familiar motion picture or television show I can reproduce the exact key upon request). I’m also widely considered by a growing number of friends and acquaintances to be “one-stop-shopping” for all things consumer-audio related. I have made other people (i.e.: retailers) so much money over the years that they should lavish gear upon me for free (are you listening, Definitive Tech?) – like Cambridge SoundWorks (aka:, who’ve made enough money off of my suggested sales to buy the freedom of all the poor Chinese slave labor they employ to make their remarkably musical products. In home theater circles, I can easily rattle off enough audio and video dos and don’ts to make your spouse divorce you. I’m also boring you now, so I’ll stop.

Hey, it’s an adventure, but at least it’s not a job. Wait… I don’t think I like the sound of that.

And the audio-drug-du-jour that Mr. Hancock is foisting upon North America, how does this play into my evil plans to make the world a better, Bose-free place in which to live? Well, let’s look at some numbers everyone can appreciate (and understand)…

With two of the necessary accessories(???) for what’s known as the Bose Acoustic Wave® Music System – the one that our dear Mr. Hancock is pushing – the cost involved is NOT insubstantial. In fact, at a “base price” of “only” $1079 (that’s without the “base” – which is necessary if you want to plug anything useful into it), one can hardly call this “miracle in sound” anything but a miracle of marketing malevolence. Add in the two most essential “extras” and you have an even less insubstantial price of $1377 – ARRRGH!!!

Now, it’s not like I’m some jealous homeless guy who’s simply pissed because he can’t afford one, no. In fact, $1377 barely covers the cost of just ONE of my main stereo speakers; the point being that I’m not lambasting Bose for what you pay for this bombastic yuppie boom box, but for what you get for that grievous cash outlay.


You get shit.

True, the “Acoustic Waveguide®” principle is sound (no pun intended) in its own right, but that doesn’t mean all those “testimonials” you hear from the paid scum posing as Bose’s customers aren’t blowing thick, oily smoke up your ass. Okay, maybe they are real people, but anyone who claims that this is the best reproduced sound they’ve ever heard is either deaf, a Clinton-worthy liar, or thinks the radio on Gilligan’s Island is high fidelity at its finest.

C’mon, people… That stupid little beige box sounds as good or better as a component system with appropriately huge speakers? Right. And my mother raised the flag on Iwo. Fuck…

And what’s with all the claims of you having to constantly “tweak” your component system? I’ll buy that if you and your spouse were stupid enough to breed and you didn’t have the common sense to duct tape the little ones to a passing car when you had the chance, but if tiny hands don’t have access to your system, what worked once is what works forever.

Oh, and that part about the kid being able to “feel the bass” in his chest from that ridiculous little box… Yeah, if you dropped the box between the rib-spreader during open-heart surgery, I might buy that, but the laws of physics are incontrovertible in most cases – and bass reproduction is sure as hell is one of them. You need a BIG transducer to move enough air to reproduce a particularly low waveform. Hell, the wavelength of “Low E” (42.5Hz @ A = 440Hz [at sea level]) on a bass guitar is eight meters long, so anyone who thinks that his or her chest is being tickled by a $1K ghetto blaster is ripe for the picking by the unscrupulous Kennedy-voters at Bose. Sorry, people, that pricey toy doesn’t even come close to reality. Shit, it’s not even in the same neighborhood as virtual reality.

So, what would yours truly suggest to all those easily taken fucks with $1377 to absentmindedly blow on a “Keeping up with the Joneses” special and still get the portability and quality (meaning build quality) they’re expecting from the beige plastic lump Herbert “Watermelon Man” Hancock is pushing in those insufferable infomercials?

Well, for starters, I’d tell ’em to put away $877.02 of that $1377 for a rainy day (or hookers) and buy a Cambridge SoundWorks Model Twelve (that’s a separate satellite speaker and bass module sound system all wrapped up in a transportable case) along with a Panasonic SLSX469V AM/FM portable CD player and drop by your idiot neighbor’s house – you know, the same moron who’s already sprung for the sorry-ass Bose system – and bring them to tears by simply plugging yours in and blowing their shitty little Bose shoebox into the fucking swimming pool…

…And all for a mere $499.98(!), less shipping and handling.

That’s right. You’d get all the same features of the Bose system in a more portable, gloriously musical package that’s assembled right down the road from where you will find Mr. Hancock burning on that other nicely manicured lawn. But the sub-$500 combo also features:

•    Real stereo imaging (not “pretend” two-channel imaging from 2 drivers in the same box).

•    Real (below 50Hz, at any rate) bass impact.

•    Real expandability (no extra “accessories” needed – the Model Twelve truly does “play well with others”).

I know what you’re asking yourselves… “Does The Blank work for Cambridge or Matsushita (Panasonic)?” Not hardly. I’m just offering a suggestion as a gentlemanly consumer advocate who’s looking out for the little guy – meaning anyone with a fucking clue.

I’m like the government (Gag!)… I’m only here to help.




If enough of you STOP accepting the Bose 30-day in-home Acoustic Wave® Music System trial offer, maybe you can spare the life of a very talented – but woefully misguided – musician who’s been on my menu ever since he started stumping for Blows®.

And isn’t the warm fuzzy feeling you’ll get from that sense of accomplishment worth the price of admission – namely saving yourself $1377 – alone?

Nah, I didn’t think so, but I had to give you the PC out if you wanted to take it.

And now I think I’ll take my leave of you good people and go listen to Horatio Gutierrez playing Rach 3 on my decidedly NON-portable primary sound system.

I think Herbie the Human Torch would have wanted it that way.


“You couldn't get a clue during the clue mating season in a field full of horny clues if you smeared your body with clue musk and did the clue mating dance.”
Edward Flaherty